Martin Luther : Segregation and Violence to Black Americans

Martin Luther : Segregation and Violence to Black Americans


Segregation and violence to black Americans were the genesis of civil rights movements in the United States. Most of the Americans lead by Martin Luther, and Malcolm X were spearheading the campaign of having an American state where everybody had equal rights regardless of their ethnic or racial affiliation.  However, there has been a debate over the years regarding whether the non-violent approach adopted by Martin Luther and the likes had the best results as compared to Malcolm’s violent approach. The non-violent sit-ins and boycotts were the method of protest and sought attention from most Americans and won support for the new civil rights. Despite the limited success through violent means, non-violent protest resulted in changing the existing segregation laws in the South. It also had a larger impact on the white minority in United States of America and will have more fruitful effects on the struggles for equality in the future.


Although the civil rights movements had many crusaders, Martin Luther had the best impacts on the lives of black Americans. Despite the numerous challenges in his ideologies of non-violence, Martin Luther is considered as a better leader through his contribution to black Americans. It is worth noting that he was responsible for the improved living standards for non-whites in America. Through the non-violent procedure, Martin Luther strived for the introduction of voting rights and civil rights Acts that were substantial in improving the lives of the black Americans. Much of this success was as a result of the countless non-violent campaigns such as bus boycotts.

Using non-violent campaigns to advocate for civil rights is in agreement with Christianity and biblical teachings. The Bible teaches us about the importance of love instead of hate. If all people in the world strictly followed and understood the bible, there would be no such evil such as segregation and violence in the world. Martin Luther understood that there was no point of solving evil with evil.  It was important to fight the evil rather than fighting the people through violent means. Martin Luther used his Christianity background and education in advocating for change in America. Education has been and will always be an essential tool for freedom and success. Being a white American, Martin Luther had the wisdom of understanding that the blacks were not fewer humans. His non-violent approach had positive results since racists became a minority and were taken for fools by non-racists.

Staging non-violent protests yielded better results towards curbing segregation. By conducting sit-ins,  kneel-ins and bus boycott, the non-violent Protestants attracted attention from the United States presidents. For instance, Kennedy and Johnson had to intervene when the Protestants used coercive non-violence means.  This is evident in the words of the non-violent crusaders that non-violence touches men where the law does not. The non-violence protest caused some crises that forced President Johnson and Kennedy to intervene. This is a clear indication that it is not necessary for Protestants to use violent means to seek attention to their grievances.

`           The use of non-violent approach has historically proved results. From the civil rights movement’s history, it is evident that the methods used by Martin Luther had more useful results in change. It is clear that non-violent approach by Martin Luther had less radical reactions. The approach is incisive and helps breakdown conservative’s viewpoints and serve to shame the opposition into realizing that it is high time that they change their conservative state. In the case of Martin Luther, racists were ashamed of their acts and changed for the better.

Use of non-violent approach during the civil rights movements intimidated most of the Americans. This approach enabled the black Americans to defend and look after themselves serving the objectives of the movement. The movement forced the federal government into passing acts in the Senate that that would eventually give the blacks a position in the society. This is clear evidence that it possible to get desired results using justified means. It is also true to the saying that violence kills while non-violence heals. The black Americans got their rightful position in society and integrated peacefully with the whites. Martin Luther asserts that non-violence approach is a powerful and effective weapon that teaches and shows love and equality to all regardless of their racial affiliations.

It is, however, essential noting that violent approach also had some role in the realization of civil rights movements’ objective. Just like Martin Luther, Malcolm X was also advocating for the rights of black Americans. Both of them were smart thinkers who wanted an American state where ever citizen would have equal rights irrespective of cultural or social affiliations. Nevertheless, while Martin Luther advocated for the blacks rights through non-violent means, Malcolm was to the idea of violent approach.   According to Malcolm, x anyone who opposed the agenda of the movement should be roughed up until their grievances were acted upon. This was contrary to Martin Luther, who was more concerned with the integration of all races in America. Malcolm’s primary concern was freedom for black Americans living in America.

It is prudent understanding that both Martin Luther and Malcolm X realized some gains to the black Americans.   Essential issues such as voting rights and other fundamental human rights were as a result of their efforts. This is a clear indication that even violent means contributed substantially to the course of civil rights movements. The conservatives have argued that most of the black Americans are suffering due to integration process introduced by Martin Luther. This suggests that the violent approach adopted by Malcolm had better results as compared to the non-violence approach as propagated by Martin. It is also argued that his non-violent approach led to violence after his assassination.


Non-violence has always been and will continue being a more successful tool for achieving sameness for black Americans. Non-violent protests, sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, were very efficient and substantially responsible for ending segregation in most public facilities such as restaurants and buses in the South. These tactics also gained national support for the cause of black Americans by creating sympathy for peaceful protesters who were beaten by opponents. Although there were instances of violence after King’s assassination, the results of his non-violent campaign are undisputable.

The violent means by Malcolm X and the company were not such successful at all as evidenced by the public’s negative reaction to these methods, the desegregation of the South through non-violent methods and the future prospects for gaining more equality for blacks in America. To sum it up, Martin Luther’s methods and message gave black Americans faith and inspiration that change could occur as witnessed by the civil rights groups that developed during his era. In fact the success of non-violence tactics for black Americans should be a point of reference to other oppressed Americans that violence is not the best means to advocate for social justice.


(Work cited)

N.p., 2015. Web. 18 July 2015.

Berlatsky, Noah. The Assassination Of Martin Luther King, Jr.. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. Print.

Hohle, Randolph. Black Citizenship And Authenticity In The Civil Rights Movement. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Roberts, Adam, and Timothy Garton Ash. Civil Resistance And Power Politics. Oxford: OUP Oxford, 2011. Print.

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